A hole-by-hole guide to Royal Lytham and St Annes

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The 125th Open golf championship tees off at Royal Lytham tomorrow. Andy Farrell gives a hole-by-hole guide to the links, using statistics from the last Open staged there in 1988 to show the average number of shots played per hole, and to rank the 18 holes by difficulty.

The horses for courses theory points to Seve Ballesteros reversing his poor recent form. Two of the Spaniard's three Open wins were at Lytham (1979 and 1988).

The holes where a challenge can fall apart come towards the end, where Lytham carries a powerful sting in the tail.

The Royal roll of honour

Previous winners of the Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes (winning score and victor's prize money in brackets): 1926 Bobby Jones, US (291, nil - amateur); 1952 Bobby Locke, SA (287, pounds 300); 1958 Peter Thomson, Aus (278, pounds 1,000); 1963 Bob Charles, NZ (277, pounds 1,500); 1969 Tony Jacklin, GB (280, pounds 4,250); 1974 Gary Player, SA (289, pounds 5,500); 1979 Seve Ballesteros, Sp (283, pounds 15,000); 1988 Seve Ballesteros, Sp (273, pounds 80,000).

Since the 1988 Open, the total yardage has been increased from 6,857 to 6,892 yards.

1 vOnly Open course to begin with a short hole. Bunkers flank the green, those on the left more in play as tee is sheltered from right-to- left wind. Hole history: In 1979 Sam Torrance hit his tee shot to an inch. "This is good," he thought. 84 shots later . . .

Average score in 1988: 3.12. Ranking by difficulty in 1988: 12

2 Slight dog-leg left. Railway line on the right is out of bounds but right side of fairway opens up the entrance to the green. Anything left needs to carry front left greenside bunker.

Pro to watch: Like the next, perfectly suits Colin Montgomerie's fade off the tee. 1988 average score: 4.24. 1988 ranking: 10

3 Long, straight par-4 down the line of the railway. Fairway bunker on left must be avoided or green will not be reached in two. Green slopes away like up-turned saucer.

Pro's play: Don't aim for the flag. Play for the middle, putt to the side. 1988 average: 4.33. 1988 ranking: 8

4 Dog-leg left, which suddenly turns into the prevailing wind. Bank of rough right, but bunkers left and this side leaves blind second. Short- iron approach should set up birdie chance.

Pro to watch: Greg Norman - most accurate long driver in the world. 1988 average: 4.36. 1988 ranking: 6

5 Long short hole to small, narrow green which slopes away on all sides. Usually plays between 3-iron and 1-iron. Four deep bunkers on left, two more front right.

Hacker's guide: Resist temptation to play from championship tee. Fortunately, it's only used for the Open. 1988 average: 3.26. 1988 ranking: 7

6 First of back-to-back par-5s and good birdie chance. Most will get up in two. Green surrounded by five bunkers. The one at front left has been altered to collect rather than repel second shots.

Pro to watch: Ian Woosnam - rare hole where draw is needed off the tee.

1988 average: 4.38. 1988 ranking: 18

7 Despite being downwind, generally a three-shotter. Narrow landing area for drive between dunes on right and bunkers on left. Green has been shortened and extended on right, creating tricky extra pin position.

Hole history: In 1988 Price and Ballesteros eagled but Faldo three-putted for par to drop out of contention. 1988 average: 4.61. 1988 ranking: 17

8 Medium-length par-4, extended by 30 yards to require more woods from the tee. Anyone in bunker on left must splash out. Elevated green, requiring approach tossed up to the mercy of the wind.

Hacker's guide: Take extra club for second. Elevation foreshortens distance and green is 40 yards past ridge. 1988 average: 4.07. 1988 ranking: 14

9 Third par 3 on the front nine. Elevated tee gives view of all the trouble - seven deep bunkers eat into the green. Normally, plays as a 6 or 7-iron. Pro to watch: Severity of bunkers will require short game mastery of Phil Mickelson.

1988 average: 2.97. 1988 ranking: 15.

10 Short par 4 which turns back into the wind. Accuracy more important than length. Anything right leaves blind second. Perhaps a 1-iron and an 8-iron. Green slopes back-to-front.

Pro's play: Approach should be short of the flag to leave uphill putt, but not spin off the front. 1988 average: 4.27. 1988 ranking: 9

11 Last of the par 5s. Can either fly the bunkers on the right or lay up in front of those on left, which leaves blind second. Most looking to pitch and putt for birdie.

Hole history: In 1988 Ballesteros holed from 20ft for birdie to put him one ahead of Price, whose putt lipped out. 1988 average: 5.29. 1988 ranking: 11

12 Gem of a short hole. Wind from the left, but tee is sheltered. Green is angled and strongly inclined. Two bunkers eat into right side, three more on the left.

Pro to watch: Shot-making skills of Corey Pavin should come to the fore here. 1988 average: 3.45. 1988 ranking: 3

13 Last realistic birdie chance. Short par-4 dog-leg right. Hidden bunkers down the right-hand side should be avoided. A 1-iron leaves a full wedge shot to a long, narrow green.

Pros to watch: John Daly. If he drops out of contention, will he try to drive the green? 1988 average: 3.92 1988 ranking: 16

14 Start of brutal finish and the hardest hole in 1988. Ideal tee- shot is down the right, close to bunkers and mounds. Second needs a precise long iron. Two bunkers give narrow entrance to green.

Pro's play: Level fours home from here. "If you haven't made your score by now, pray." 1988 average: 4.63. 1988 ranking: 1

15 A monster hole usually played directly into the wind. Tee shot restricted by two bunkers either side of the fairway except for the biggest hitters. Hourglass-shaped green with bunkers either side.

Hacker's guide: A nest of bunkers 50 yards short of the green waits for anyone greedy out of the rough. 1988 average: 4.61. 1988 ranking: 2

16 The only let-up on the way home. Slight dog-leg right. Tee shot towards, but short of, three bunkers on the left. Anything right needs to carry seven bunkers with the approach.

Pro to watch: Ballesteros - birdie via car park in 1979, almost holed second shot in 1988. What next? 1988 average: 4.12. 1988 ranking: 13

17 Dog-leg left. Playing to the right is safest route but makes long hole longer. Shorter to go left, but bunkers line the left hand side and approach is blind.

Hole history: Plaque commemorates Bobby Jones's mashie-iron shot from sandy waste area on left which helped him win in 1926.

1988 average: 4.39. 1988 ranking: 4

18 Daunting tee shot with view to clubhouse dominated by bunkers. Drive needs to carry those on right, and stop short of those on left. Then a mid-iron to a green surrounded by six bunkers. Pro to watch: Cometh a par to win the Open, cometh Nick Faldo.

1988 average: 4.37. 1988 ranking: 5